sarah derry accor
Accor Pacific CEO Sarah Derry with commerical team leaders at Accor Stadium

With just two weeks to go until the FIFA Women’s World Cup gets underway in Australia and New Zealand, the hospitality industry is preparing to roll out the green and gold carpet to an influx of international visitors.

It’s the first time the tournament will held in the Southern Hemisphere, and according to Football Australia President Chris Nikou, it will be the largest sporting event on Australian soil since the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000, showcasing the ANZ region to a global audience of over one billion people.

Hospitality giant Accor is in a unique position, with its name above one of the 10 stadiums to hold the matches as well as over 140 hotels across the key cities involved.  

In an exclusive interview with HM, Accor Pacific CEO, Sarah Derry, said the event is to add tens of thousands of room nights to its books.  

“Accor hotel teams anticipate that an additional 40,000 guests will stay with us throughout the FIFA Women’s World Cup,” Derry said.

With the tournament expected to attract a large number of international visitors to the country – many of which will be discovering the region for the first time – hotels, and the hospitality industry more broadly, will play an important role in ensuring travellers have a memorable and enjoyable experience.

“Hosting such a prestigious sporting event provides an opportunity to showcase Australia as a premium travel destination and attract global attention,” Derry said.

“The influx of tourists during the tournament can boost the local economy by increasing spending on accommodation, food, transportation, and additional travel plans to see the wider region. This exposure can have long-term benefits for tourism, as it can attract visitors even after the tournament has ended, attracting future tourists who may have been inspired by the tournament.

“The event is incredibly important and has the potential to boost the economy, generate media exposure, and create a positive image for Australia.”

“The future is women”

Interest in this year’s competition has exceeded expectations with over 1.1 million tickets sold meaning the event will surpass France’s 2019 World Cup as the most attended standalone women’s sporting event in history.

“The future is women,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino when he announced the milestone on his Instagram. “And thanks to the fans for supporting what will be the greatest FIFA Women’s World Cup ever!”

With Accor being one of few hotel groups in the region headed up by a woman, investing in female talent, across sport, business, and the arts, is high on the agenda.

Within the Pacific business, Accor’s Executive Committee is a 50/50 gender split; 45% of its in-property Heads of Department are female; and it’s on track to deliver a target of 30% female General Managers this year.

Through its loyalty program, ALL, Accor is also supporting women in sport with AFL star Daisy Pearce and rugby player Ruby Tui among its ambassadors.

“We’re excited to partner with superstars like Ruby Tui with ALL – Accor Live Limitless, and to invest in women’s sport. Ruby is an outstanding sportsperson and inspiration to all,” Derry said.

“Within Accor, we invest in, develop and support our people, and our teams benefit from the many exciting opportunities we provide them for career development. If people have potential and passion, they go far in our business.”

Looking ahead to major events next year, the arrival of 12-time Grammy award winner Taylor Swift to Australian shores next year is already being celebrated at Accor with early booking demand across its Sydney hotels up 180% over the concert dates, when compared to the year prior.

In February 2024, Swift will play seven Australian concerts across Sydney and Melbourne – four of which will take place at Accor Stadium to an anticipated audience of more than 300,000 fans.

“The influx of visitors attending these spectacular events has significantly boosted interest in hotel room bookings across Greater Sydney for Accor properties,” said Derry.